I have many times come across misconceptions about psychologists.
Many of them are, yet, real. I confirm: many of psychologists are unfit for this profession. I say unfit to be gentle. In reality, many make the patient feel worse than it first came to the office.
What is made of a good psychologist?
Life experience – the therapist must have passed through various difficult moments himself to see what truly works and what does not in the healing process. To understand the human essence with all its darkness and splendors.
Culture – the ability to understand the multitude of personalities, situations and contexts, to provide examples, metaphors and comparisons that help the client to have a better understanding of his situation.
Talent - as in any profession, in order to be a virtuoso, an outstanding professional, you must have a vocation for this job. It actually has to be a calling, not a job or a career.
Many of those who chose this profession they’ve done it because they did not knew what else to do with their own life.
Others because they wanted to know or heal themselves. They learn some theories and techniques which they furthermore try to apply yet without understanding much of the problems of his patient.
Empathy – the main quality of this profession, it’s not possible if the therapist does not have the cognitive and emotional complexity required. Yes, you can feel empathy toward the pain but it does not help too much if it stops here.
That does not mean that you have to be manic depressive in order to understand somebody else with this symptom. We can find arguments both ways in this situation, but to understand another Self, different than yourself, requires a big capacity of migrating into another mental and spiritual existence.
To be able to get out of yourself is a damn hard difficult quest. The therapist has to be familiar with this action, to have mastered the ability to ignore his own limits and to feel what is, what can and what cannot be the person in front of him.
No matter how poetic and corny it may sound, a good psychologist is a person who loved a lot. For love is the action that makes you get out of yourself. Love for a partner, for children, for friends, love of knowledge and ideas, love in its many dimensions, love for human.
A good psychologist is a person you can admire because through awe you can learn a lot.
A psychologist is a person with a warm personality, charismatic, with a good balance between reason and emotion, in whose presence you feel that you can think and you can feel yourself with all the vulnerabilities, fears and your faults.
A good psychologist is someone who helps you find your resources and inner wealth, who knows how to bring to light the correct motivation, who knows to give yourself back in a version which you can love.
A complex personality, rich culture, anchored in reality - are also very necessary qualities. Many psychologists are overly seduced by an excessive humanism, a cult of suffering and childhood victimization. Which is good to a certain degree – it gives the ability to empathize, you feel it’s a sensitive person who listens. In excess though it can taint the therapeutic relationship.
A psychologist, in addition to the fact that it’s required to have healed his own traumas, should be in continuous personal development – especially that psychology is a young science and each year new discoveries are made, old theories collapse and new ones are proposed.
Evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, neurotheology are some of the sciences that helps to identify the psychological genome in all its shades, from which a psychologist has to extract his knowledge.
There is no unified theory of the human psyche. Some do not even recognize psychology as a science and psychotherapy is regarded by others as a charade.
These are radical views that deprives man of the right and hope that healing and balance are possible. Which experience confirms: change is possible!
It requires effort and determination but the alternative to live only the shadow of what your life might have been, is not an alternative that deserves to be considered.
In some cases, therapy can work regardless of how good is the psychologist. Why?
1. Because you express yourself, because you have someone to talk about your issues. Sometimes, this simple fact, to hear yourself speaking, helps you objective yourself and to give yourself answers.
Because sometimes you are burdened by secrets that you could not tell anyone, and the “confession” itself helps to relieve some mental tensions.
2. Because you feel listened by someone who is neutral, non-judgmental. Because someone has patience with you.
3. The placebo effect – because going to therapy itself, accepting the fact that you have a problem and the effort to solve is a step forward.
Any form of therapy works, in varying degrees and for limited periods of time, because any effort you make has its value.
For many, it’s a whole adventure until they get to meet the right psychologist, the person with whom they feel intellectual alchemy and their interaction gives birth to real progress.
Often, a first bad experience with a psychologist (and I know of many such cases) can make you avoid at all costs to even try again.
But, as you do not give up finding your life partner, the right friends and the right job that brings you satisfaction, it deserves as much effort to find that right therapist, that person who you feel it can coach you on your path to fulfillment and harmony.
I even dare to say that finding a good psychologist can help you meet all the other important dimensions of your life, from love, to relationships with others, to career and self-knowledge.
Look for him, find him, use him. And then be!